MALONE - Malone Village Police, along with the Franklin County Border Narcotics Task Force, made three arrests Wednesday night following a three-month investigation into area heroin trafficking.
Randy Hart Jr., 27, of Bombay is charged with three felony counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and four felony counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance for alleged instances that took place between late August and Wednesday and misdemeanor seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Chad Gilman, 24, of Bombay is facing three counts each of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance for alleged instances between mid-August and late-September.
Angela Mulverhill, 30, of Brushton is charged with a single count of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Hart and Gilman are believed to have sold as much as $1.2 million worth of heroin during the course of the investigation, according to a statement from the Franklin County District Attorneys Office.
Gilman and Mulverhill were arrested during a Wednesday night traffic stop. At a Thursday press conference, District Attorney Derek Champagne said they were allegedly in possession of 1,220 bindles of heroin with an estimated street value of $36,600. He added they were travelling back to the north country from Holyoke, Mass.
Later in the day, he said Gilman and Hart were the focus of the investigation and Mulverhill is considered an associate.
All three were arraigned in Malone Town Court and remanded to the Franklin County Jail in lieu of $25,cash or $50,000 bond.
Police executed a search warrant at Gilmans 91 Moore Road, Bombay residence and located 19 pounds of processed marijuana with an estimated street value of $60,800, cash totalling $9,400, a Glock .45-calibre handgun reported stolen from Saratoga about two years ago with ammunition, and a set of brass knuckles.
Mr. Champagne said he will likely face additional charges for all three.
State police utilized a 10-member Special Operation Response Team (SORT) when searching Gilmans residence because they believed he had a gun. They used a diversionary device upon entry and no shots were fired, a news release from the district attorneys office stated.
Execution of a search warrant of Harts 455 County Route 32, Lot 19, Bombay residence yielded a small amount of heroin and drug paraphernalia.
Third-degree criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance each carry a potential one-to-nine year prison sentence.
Officials stated Thursday that arrests for cocaine and heroin have recently taken a sharp increase, which indicates a growing drug problem in the local community. Malone Village Police Chief Christopher Premo said in his 18 years in law enforcement, he has seen heroin make a more pronounced presence over time.
When I started, all I heard is marijuana. Now all I hear is heroin, he said. If we dont get a handle on heroin, its a highly-addictive drug and itll destroy your community.
Chief Premo said he spoke with a detective from Holyoke who told him it was reaking havoc there.
Malone Mayor Todd LePine was present at the conference and voiced concerns about where addicts are procuring the money to finance their habit.
Where are they getting the money? he asked.
Mr. Champagne many of them are most likely either working for it and in turn not feeding themselves or their families or acquiring it through ill-gotten means.
Bureau of Criminal Investigation Lt. Brent Davison said state police Troop B, which encompasses an area of northern New York from Clinton to Jefferson County, has seen a high number of drug-related burglaries.
Theres hundreds of them, all over the troop and almost all are related to addiction, he said.
Mr. Champagne said urban drug dealers want to push their product in areas like Malone because they can make anywhere from three to 20 times profit.
Its a modern-day gold rush for the rural areas, he said.
Chief Premo said another factor contributing to more heroin arrests is the pharmaceutical industrys shift to making abuse-proof oxycodone and OxyContin which cannot be snorted, smoked, or injected driving addicts to a different source for their high.
Now those people dont have a drug to snort or inhale, so they go to the old reliable: cocaine and heroin, he stated.
Champagne said he believes the recent repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws, which called for 15 years to life for selling two ounces or more of a narcotic, entices dealers to travel out of the cities and to places like Franklin County.
The investigation was carried out by Malone Village Police and the Franklin County Border Narcotics Task Force, which includes members of the New York State Police, U.S. Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Administration, St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police, Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Franklin County District Attorneys Office, and a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) analyst. HIDTA is a federal program that gives extra money and resources to law enforcement areas deemed to have higher instances of drug trafficking, according to whitehouse.gov. HIDTAs cover 16 percent of all counties in the United States and 60 percent of the U.S. population, according to whitehouse.gov.